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SSC Newspaper : February 2012
T he residents of Strath- field are going to be hard put to complain that they have not been consulted this year. First, they have already turned out to give their views on the Strathfield 2025 Community Strategic Plan, de- signed to give them a voice on the future of the municipality and its services and facilities. The final con- sultations will conclude this month after more than three months of community engagement. This exercise aims to get residents thinking about the big picture. Now they have the draft Local En- vironmental Plan (LEP) – the blue- print for the next 10 years in terms of building heights, floor space ratios, zoning for residential or industrial purposes, the environment and our open spaces and parks. Information sessions and submission forms are already out, with a 23 March dead- line for their return. When these consultation schemes are over, there is one last test of public opinion: all seats on the council are up for election in September. Feedback heard The first indication that the views of residents are being heard loud and clear came this month at a council meeting. An application from the Chamber of Commerce to hold the Olde Fashioned Fair in May was de- ferred after councillors were told feedback from residents suggested many events in the area are not “high- ly rated”. Councillors asked officers to evaluate the event against the cost to the council. What residents told the groups looking at the Community Strategic Plan won’t finally be known until later in the year. But it is believed to be one of the biggest exercises in grassroots democracy the area has seen. First indications are that respond- ents placed high importance on safety, crime, transport and health. Consultations included a Strath- field-wide community survey, two large community discussion sessions in the Town Hall, interviews with representatives of business, schools and community organisations as well as many individuals lodging submis- sions with ideas for the future. In total, more than 2000 people participated in the community con- sultations, which demonstrates the interest and commitment of the peo- ple of Strathfield to the future of the community. Mayor of Strathfield Cr Paul Bar- ron said the response was over- whelmingly positive. “To have more then 2000 people take the time to share their views and discuss what they would like for the future of Strathfield is a very positive response. It is a strong in- dicator that the Strathfield com- munity is passionate about the area and the services and issues affect- ing the local community across all levels of government. “I would like to thank everyone w ho got involved in the process, completed sur veys, came along to discussion sessions and shared their honest opinions and experi- ences. This plan is informed by the community, for the communi- ty and we can now look forward to its release.” Those taking part were asked to comment on council services and functions but also on the impor- tance of services and programs of- fered by state and federal govern- ments that affect Strathfield. The survey and discussion ses- sions were a rare opportunity to raise matters dealt with by both governments, such as medical facilities, energy, crime, schools, business development, employ- ment, and recreation and leisure activities. The initial results indicate the Strathfield community regards ser- vices, primarily provided by the state government, to be of highest impor- tance in the Strathfield LGA. The top four themes include community safe- ty and crime prevention, access to public transport, affordable and effi- cient use of energy/water and access to hospital services. Results are still being analysed. But early indications are that the commu- nity is focused on public transport and local medical services, which were performing well. Crime, energy, water and hospitals were given low performance rankings. Further results from the survey and the detailed comments from the community discussions are be- ing collated to be including in fu- ture reports to the council. The in- formation will be synthesised into the Strathfield 2025 Community Strategic Plan, which will then be released to the public for exhibition and further consultation before it can be adopted. Although the Strathfield 2025 Community Strategic Plan and the new draft LEP are related to council planning, they have separate specific functions and different consultative processes. Every council in NSW has an LEP dealing with land use, planning and development controls. All councils are required to update their LEP eve- ry 10 years under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. The objective of Strathfield 2025 is to set out the long-term strategic di- rection of the municipality across a wide range of services and functions involving local and state government as well as the community and busi- ness sectors. people’s voice But the fact that two consultations are taking place back to back at- taches a new-found importance to the views of local communities on how their neighbourhoods devel- op. As Sydney struggles to cope with the problems of population grow th, transport gridlock and where to site new homes and facto- ries, it remains to be seen just how powerful the people’s voice can be. One thing is certain: come poll- ing day in September, Strathfield’s electors are likely to be among the best informed ever to decide the future of their councillors. For up-to-date information on the progress of these plans, please visit the dedicated website for each plan at: www.strathfield2025.com.au or Strathfield Scene 11 www.ourstrathfield.com.au the big issue Strathfield’s leaders decide to ... Respondents placed high importance on public safety, crime, transport and health listen up The Local Environment Plan has been released, giving Strathfield residents another opportunity to say what they think, writes Peter Lynch.